Researchers: Stop blaming the weather for your lower back pain

Stop blaming the weather for your lower back pain.

According to Australian researchers, lower back pain is not linked to weather conditions such as temperature, wind direction and precipitation. Although the risk of lower back pain somewhat rises with higher wind speed or wind gusts, it was not clinically significant.

Lower back pain impacts up to 33 percent of the world population at any given time, according to the World Health Organization. Those with this complaint often report that their symptoms are affected by the weather. Earlier work has demonstrated that cold or humid weather, and alterations in the weather augment symptoms in patients with chronic pain conditions.

“Many patients believe that weather impacts their pain symptoms,” says Dr. Daniel Steffens with the George Institute for Global Health at the University of Sydney, Australia. “However, there are few robust studies investigating weather and pain, specifically research that does not rely on patient recall of the weather.”

Nearly 1,000 individuals who were seen at primary care clinics in Sydney took part in the study between October 2011 and November 2012. Weather records from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology were obtained for the extent of the study period. Researchers compared the weather at the time patients first felt lower back pain with weather conditions one week and one month before the start of pain.

The findings revealed no link between lower back pain and weather.

“Our findings refute previously held beliefs that certain common weather conditions increase risk of lower back pain,” notes Dr. Steffens. “Further investigation of the influence of weather parameters on symptoms associated with specific diseases such as fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis are needed.”

The study’s results are published in the journal Arthritis Care & Research.